I am constantly amazed at the amount of misleading information conveyed by amateur, if well-intentioned historians. ''Were Rebel Troops Too Groggy to Carry the Day?'' by Blair Lee {Close to Home, July 14} and the rejoinder ''It was Gen. Wheaton Who Carried the Day'' by Charles Boynton {letter, July 22}.

First off, the old chestnuts about drunk Confederate leaders in Francis Preston Blair's Silver Spring mansion rank up there with the hoary myth that Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes yelled at President Abraham Lincoln, ''Get down you fool'' as the chief executive stood viewing the action atop Fort Stevens' parapet. My own research for my book, "Jubal Early's Raid on Washington: 1864," suggests Justice Holmes may never have been present, and even if he was, at least a half dozen other observers came forward to claim similar honors for commanding President Lincoln to alight from his dangerous perch.

Furthermore, research in the written record suggests that Gen. Early's men succumbed to the liquor supply in a country store at the present Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road while heat, dust, an avoidable but bloody battle at Monocacy two days before and just plain lethargy played far more of a role in hindering Gen. Early from getting into the capital than Blair Lee's ancestral wine cellar. Moreover, Mr. Boynton suggests, the Federal opposition also had much to do with the situation.

Still, Mr. Boynton errs about Gen. Early capturing a supply train near Rockville (that was earlier in the war when Jeb Stuart did the deed). And the Frederick ransom had absolutely nothing to do with providing food and drink, clothing or anything else to the rebels (they had secured bountiful harvests of food all the way north from Lynchburg in the Shenandoah Valley, and they had captured Union supply depots on the upper Potomac.) Moreover, Gen. Early's operation was doomed at least from July 4, when his triumphant band pillaged those supply depots, overflowing with goodies in preparation for the celebration of the National Independence Day. Peach coolers and other delicacies slowed down the Confederate invasion force from that point forward allowing a very tardy Ulysses S. Grant to rush veterans like Gen. Wheaton to stave off disaster before the capital.

The heroes in the whole thing, however, were not the veterans on either side, nor the commanders -- rather they were a much-maligned contingent of government clerks, Ohio college boys in reserve units and invalids from local military hospitals, who were thrust into the northern defense line at Fort Stevens. They were the ones who put up enough bluff to buffalo the likes of Old Jube and his army of seasoned campaigners. Besides, the Confederates proved none too tired or inebriated to scamper back across the Potomac several days later, leaving Montgomery Blair's Falkland mansion in smoldering ruins. B. FRANKLIN COOLING Chevy Chase